Anyone who has lived in the Minnesota metro area knows how busy city life moves. Congestion on I-35 and 94 never seem to break and just when you think you’ve left the insanity of the cities, you find yourself fighting the crowd running to and from the Minneapolis-St Paul (or MSP for you, locals) airport. Tucked quietly away just 2 minutes from MSP, however, lies the Fort Snelling State Park where locals and tourists alike can, “get away from it all,” without actually being too far from it all.
Fort Snelling State Park is located on Post Road just off Highway 5 in South St Paul. Once on the grounds, one’s first sight will be the visitor center where you pick up your parking permit. Five dollars buys you one day, and 25 dollars will buy you admission for the whole year. After your parking permit is fastened securely on your windshield, you can begin your trek through the Minnesota woods as it was during its settlement. With the exception of the Mendota Bridge and the paved trails, the atmosphere is almost out of the era, like stepping back into the 1800’s. Wildlife runs free and the river runs silently south giving you time to unwind and take in a more natural Minnesotan experience.
Beyond the forests, rolling hills and the Minnesota river, activities are not lacking on the grounds. The park boasts 18 miles for hiking trails and 5 miles of paved biking trails. A beach has been created on Snelling Lake and fishing poles are available for rent to do some shoreline fishing. And when the temperature drops, the activities heat up. Cross country skiing, dog sledding and skijoring
trails are all maintained each winter to keep the heart rate, and adrenaline levels, up through the "brisk" Minnesotan winters. If you’re up for even more sightseeing, head 3 miles north along the trails to see the famed Minnehaha Falls.
The Fort Snelling State Park is just one of over 70 Minnesota state parks, but this one in particular needs to be enjoyed. The tranquility of the woods partnered with the short commute back to the big city makes this place an easy and fun date, vacation stop, or simple weekend activity. Life is hectic and moves all too fast. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to enjoy it. Try Fort Snelling State Park -- you’ll be glad you did.
Photos by: Tyler King